Prior to a conference in late September 1830, a man named Hiram Page, living in western New York, found a small flat stone (3”x5” approx.) with two small holes in it. Not unlike many others of his day, he determined that this stone was somehow imbued with power for receiving revelation from God. Accordingly, he began to claim visions pertaining to various subjects.
|An example of a seer stone.|
Hiram was not an evil or deluded man – he was simply following what he considered to be the proper path for determining the will of God. After all, his friends had shared with him their testimony that another young man, Joseph Smith, had followed a similar path in receiving truth from Heaven. Hiram only wanted to be faithful as Joseph had taught.
|The grave of Hiram Page|
Page’s experience was shared with his family and friends resulting in great excitement. But when Joseph Smith was informed, he had reservations about the propriety of Hiram’s actions. Living in Harmony, Pennsylvania (250 miles away), Joseph felt it serious enough that he chose to visit with the parties involved.
Joseph’s concern didn’t come because Hiram was receiving revelation – all are promised that “the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). Revelation is a gift from God and should be sought to help our lives conform with what He desires of us. No, Hiram was not wrong to seek answers, but Joseph felt there was something out of order.
When the young Prophet arrived in New York he gathered all those involved and allowed them to share their feelings on the matter. Then he did what prophets should always do – he sought for and received the will of God. Afterwards, he asked those involved to consider the new information. It was a hard thing for these good people – especially for Hiram and Oliver Cowdery.
Eventually, after much discussion (some of it heated), prayer, and revelation from the Holy Ghost, it was agreed that the counsel of the Lord, through Joseph Smith, was the correct path to follow. Hiram disavowed the revelations, Oliver confessed that he had been deceived, and a new truth was established as doctrine in the Restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Section 28 of the Doctrine and Covenants records the full text of the revelation but for the purposes of this essay, I want to focus on verse 2.
But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses. (D&C 28:2)
Lest someone misinterpret the message, let me explain. The Lord, through His appointed prophet, is not saying only prophets can receive revelation. He is saying that no one except the prophet can receive revelation for the Church. Were it otherwise, how could there be order in the Kingdom?
Not really a hard concept to understand.
It is not the prerogative of the members of God’s church to determine what is and isn’t doctrine.
That’s like allowing the foot-soldiers of an army to decide where and how battles should be fought. Imagine the confusion if generals could be countermanded in battle plans or methods of warfare according to the whims of the rank and file.
The Church of Christ is not an army in the worldly sense of the word. We are volunteers, not conscripts.
But there needs to be order in the operation of God’s work or confusion will prevail. To allow outside influences to detract from the mission of the Savior, as revealed to His appointed prophets, is tantamount to ceding victory to the adversary.
That is not to say that the members of the Church cannot ask questions and seek understanding. Joseph himself inquired of God, resulting in the First Vision. At later times questions were asked to invite revelation necessary for a restoration of essential ordinances and covenants. But the doctrines, principles, ordinances, and covenants of God must be administered by His methods as revealed through His prophets.
Voices crying for change are not unusual. Motives for change are not that different from the cries of yesteryear.
Moses listened as the children of Israel yearned to return to the ‘flesh-pots’ and gods of the Egyptians.
|Not good results for many of those participating|
in the festivities.
Elijah stood as witness to the priests of Baal and Ashtoreth as they proclaimed their works to be righteous and their gods to be all-powerful – only to be consumed by the fires of Jehovah.
|I especially like when Elijah|
tells the priests of Baal to call louder
cause their god might be sleeping.
Modern voices have every right to ask for answers to the relevant questions of our day. But they cannot expect to remain unscathed when they advocate rebellion or abandonment of the principles and truths of God.
I certify that our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing with the people of the Earth. I am confident that our Savior, Jesus Christ, speaks through His prophets and helps them know what should be done. I am also aware that He, from time-to-time, allows us to struggle before He resolves questions we think we need answers to
That is part of our learning and growth – part of the exercise of Agency.
That is the Plan.